Case studies are one of the most effective ways to inspire customer confidence and boost conversions. Done correctly, a case study can be a huge asset to your business, and can help you win hundreds of new customers each year. As you prepare your case studies in 2018, keep these 15 case study best practices in mind to get the most out of your hard work.
15 Case Study Best Practices for 2018
1. Proper Planning
This is one of the most important and most overlooked case study best practices. Before you formulate your questions or even find your customer, you should know what you want to accomplish with your case study, where you plan to display it, and what customers you want to reach. This will give you the direction you need for every subsequent step.
2. Know Your Customers
Studies show that customers will believe and relate to other customers who are similar to them. This includes demographic information as well as the problem or struggle they have. Or, for B2B companies, your case study subject should have a business or business model that is similar to your most common customer. Knowing your customers is a case study best practice that will help you choose the right subject.
3. Choose Your Case Study Subject Carefully
The right subject should not only represent your customers, but also amaze them. This is a case study best practice that can make your case study truly memorable. As you comb through your customers, consider the following to choose a case study star:
- Notable in the field: A celebrity, industry authority, or a known name brand is always a great choice.
- Extraordinary results: If the customer experienced tremendous results, they will be enthusiastic about giving a case study, and they will make an impact on potential customers.
- Knowledgeable: Customers with extensive knowledge about the industry will give you detailed and specific responses that will impress others.
- Made a Switch: A customer that recently worked with a competitor and made the switch will make a compelling case study for other consumers considering doing the same.
4. Incentivize Your Customer
Giving case study responses takes time, and even loyal customers will probably need some incentive. Here are some things you might offer your customers in exchange for a case study. While doing this, remember to keep FTC rules and regulations about reviews, endorsements, and case studies in mind as well as case study best practices.
- Free services or a service upgrade
- Free product or sample
- Blog feature with a link to their website or store
- Cash reward or giveaway
- Gift card
- Store credit
- News or magazine subscription
- Industry group membership
- Event tickets
5. Be Polite and Direct
With your customer list narrowed to the best and brightest, it’s time to ask them to be in your case study. There are many ways to ask, but it can be especially helpful to tell them about a case study after delivering recent results or delivering a big purchase.
Get your perfect case study customer with the request toolkit.
6. Be Transparent
Once you have your perfect case study customer, make sure to give them all the information they need. Tell them what questions you’ll ask, what you’re looking for, how you want to use the case study, and where it will be visible. High-profile clients or clients that switched from another company may need some discretion.
7. Use Different Media
Some visitors may prefer to read the case study, while others may prefer a video. According to Visually, video on a landing page can increase conversions by 80% or more. Since the point of case studies are to convince customers and close sales, this has big implications. One case study best practice to maximize conversions is to make the video accessible to the greatest number of people by including both text and video. Be sure to cover the same points in the video and the text, but in different ways; don’t just use a verbatim script of the video.
8. Choose the Right Length
When it comes to engaging potential customers, it’s essential to consider this case study best practice especially carefully. There is no one-size-fits-all formula for the perfect case study; some companies may need longer or shorter case studies. In general, products or services that require more buyer commitment will require longer case studies, about 500 to 700 words, or a 5 to 6 minute video. Products or services with less commitment will benefit from a larger number of shorter case study videos, around 300 words with a 2 to 3 minute video. However, you should assess what content your customers respond to most before deciding.
9. Focus on the Customer
Keeping the first case study best practice in mind, you should already know what you want your case study to accomplish and where you plan to use it. If your case study goals are based on inspiring customer trust, confidence and purchases, your next case study best practice is to focus on the customer, not your product or service. Show how your business solved a customer’s problem, the impact it had on their life, or differences it made for their business.
10. Use Data
Citing specific improvements and measurable data, such as increasing productivity by 80% or increasing sales by 40%, is more compelling than using broad, unsubstantiated claims. Wherever possible, ask for data from your B2B clients.
11. Use Emotions
B2C case study subjects are less likely to have measurable results. If a product improves a customers life, it’s probably due to a way that it made them feel or a problem that it solved. In these cases, utilizing emotional appeals will be a better case study best practice to follow, however you can use both data and emotion when both are available to make a truly powerful case study. For example, Subaru effectively uses both data and emotion through stories about crashes where families were uninjured, and backing this up with safety rating data.
12. Use a Call to Action
This case study best practice can increase conversions more than any other. If customers are inspired by the case study, they need another action to take, and it should be effortless. Place a call to action (CTA) on the page in several areas, so it can’t be missed. This might be a store discount, a price quote page, a contact page or a downloadable offer.
An outdated, uninteresting, or slow webpage will quickly drive visitors away, regardless of your case study content. Choose your testimonials or case study page design carefully, and utilize compelling graphics and headings to draw attention. Also, consider using your testimonials and case studies in other areas of your site. This is another often-overlooked case study best practice which can make a big difference in views, visits, and conversions.
14. Show it Off
Your case study pages aren’t likely to get a lot of organic traffic. Most visitors will have already seen other parts of your website and they’ll already know about your business. This means you have to show off your case studies to make sure they get noticed. Use your case studies in emails, social media posts, throughout your website, in brochures, and anywhere customers may need social proof to convince them of a purchase.
You’ve spent a lot of time and effort incorporating all these case study best practices. Now you need a way to measure success. Using Google Analytics or other tracking tools, see how many site visitors watch or read your case study. A case study collection tool like Boast will provide you with these metrics automatically. Use a button such as “read more” or “download the case study” to see how many visitors read or watch the complete piece. Measure bounce rates and CTA clicks on the page as well to see how many users are and aren’t converting,
By incorporating these case study best practices, you can make case studies that truly impact prospective customers. Remember that these case studies are ongoing marketing messages with a long shelf-life, so you can continue to use them again and again.